Two Indian Haj pilgrims killed in Makkah Grand Mosque accident

Jeddah/New Delhi


Two Indian Haj pilgrims, one from Kerala and the other from West Bengal, were among the 107 people killed in the crane accident at the Grand Mosque in the Saudi Arabian holy city of Makkah, while 15 Indians are among the injured, officials said on Saturday.

At least 238 people were wounded when a massive construction crane smashed into the part of the Grand Mosque where Haj pilgrims circle the Kaaba to pray.

"Regrettably we have been informed that two Indians have been killed in the unfortunate accident," external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a statement.

"The 15 Indians are being treated in four hospitals in Jeddah. They are recovering," Mohd. Noor Rahman Sheikh, the deputy consul general of the Consulate General in Jeddah, Haj Wing, told IANS on phone.

"The injured are being taken good care of. We have a team of Indian doctors and paramedics who are working round the clock to take care of the injured, as well as Saudi doctors who are treating them," Sheikh told IANS.

He said the injuries mostly comprised fractures, and no one among the injured is in critical condition.

Earlier, Swarup said that the 15 injured included 11 from the Haj Committee of India and four from private tour operators.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said a woman from the state, Muniza Ahmed from Asansol, died in the accident.

She said that Liakat Hossain from West Midnapore and Hasem Ali from Malda are among the injured.

President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have condoled the deaths.

Mukherjee said in a tweet: "Heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased due to crane crash in Mecca, prayers for speedy recovery of the injured."

Modi said: "My thoughts & prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives in the crane crash in Mecca. I wish the injured a quick recovery."

Vice President Hamid Ansari, condoling the deaths, said that relief and rescue operations are underway and every effort will be made to render all possible aid to the injured and the bereaved families.

The mission has published its 24/7 helpline (00966125458000/00966125496000) and toll free number (8002477786 for pilgrims within the kingdom), the MEA statement said.

The Saudi Arabia's General Directorate of Civil Defence blamed the accident on severe storms, according to its official Twitter.

At least 47 Pakistani pilgrims and 25 Bangladeshis are also reported to be among the injured. - IANS